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Kimberly Saenz’s Conviction Upheld

saenz__kimberlyacoSAN ANTONIO — The Texas Fourth Court of Appeals has upheld the sentencing of East Texas serial killer Kimberly Saenz. On April 12, 2012, Saenz, of Lufkin, was sentenced to life in prison by an Angelina County court. Saenz was convicted of injecting bleach into 10 dialysis patients in 2008, and five of those died as a result.

East Texas Mom Gets Life for Killing Baby Daughter

Shakeitha CartwrightCENTER (AP) – An East Texas woman has been sentenced to life in prison for the death of her 5-month-old daughter who was beaten, bitten and smothered. A Shelby County jury on Tuesday found 30-year-old Shakeitha Cartwright of Center guilty of capital murder. Prosecutors did not seek the death penalty so the mother received an automatic life prison term for the January 2013 death of Keilly Hoyt. Prosecutors say the baby’s skull was fractured and her back was broken. An arrest affidavit says Cartwright told police she lost her temper then hit, bit and shook the baby. An autopsy determined the cause of death was blunt force trauma and smothering. Cartwright must serve life in prison with no possibility for parole.

Authorities: Arrests Clear 35 Auto Burglaries

Jonathan Daniel BurkettTYLER — Tyler Police say 35 auto burglary cases have been cleared in East Texas with two recent arrests. According to a news release, investigators obtained a search warrant and located numerous stolen items worth thousands of dollars in the vehicle used in the latest crime. Police say Tyler investigators have been able to clear 18 auto burglary cases within the city. Smith County investigators have reportedly cleared 14 such cases, and three auto burglaries are said to have been cleared in Kilgore. Police advise, “Please remember to harden the target for auto burglars and remove all valuable items from your vehicle overnight.” Read the rest of this entry »

Van Zandt County Inmate Dies

CANTON — Van Zandt County authorities say an inmate died Sunday in the county jail. The Texas Rangers were notified and are handling the case, according to a county news release. An autopsy was ordered by Van Zandt County Justice of the Peace Ronnie Daniell. Officials say the autopsy revealed no notable trauma and no indications of any foul play. The final autopsy is pending the results of the toxicology report.

Canadian Company Starts Keystone Pipeline in Texas

thumb_Keystone-Pipeline-map2HOUSTON (AP/Staff) – A Canadian company has started operating the Texas portion of a proposed cross-border pipeline that has stirred controversy and tension between the United States and Canada. TransCanada says in a statement posted on its website Wednesday that it is delivering oil through the Gulf Coast portion of its proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The pipeline runs through much of East Texas, including part of eastern Smith County. Read the rest of this entry »

Court Struggles with Restitution for Child Porn

Supreme Court BuildingWASHINGTON (AP/Staff) – In an East Texas-linked case, the Supreme Court has lent a sympathetic ear to a victim of child pornography who wants the court to make it easier for victims to collect money from people convicted of downloading and viewing the pornographic images. The justices underscored in arguments Wednesday that the woman, known as Amy, and other victims of child pornography suffer serious psychological harm whenever anyone looks at their images online. But the court seemed to struggle with determining how much restitution for counseling, lost income, and legal fees any single defendant should be asked to pay. Read the rest of this entry »

Van Zandt Blast Victim Identified; Cause Determined

vanzandtcountyhouseVAN ZANDT COUNTY (Staff/AP) — An elderly woman killed in an accidental house explosion in Van Zandt County around 5:00 p.m. on Sunday has been identified. On Wednesday morning, authorities said the victim was Rita Armstrong, 63. KETK reports Van Zandt County officials returned to the scene of the explosion Monday to continue their investigation and determined that the fire was accidental. Authorities say that it was caused by a partially open propane valve on an unused line running into the house. According to officials, the propane seeped into the house, and something ignited the vapors shortly after Armstrong arrived home.

Heart of Tyler Annual Meeting Held

TYLER — The committee for the Black Tie Bingo fundraiser was recognized with the Brick Award at Tuesday night’s annual meeting of Heart of Tyler. That’s the organization’s top yearly honor. Heart of Tyler also celebrated the past year’s accomplishments in construction and renovations, new businesses and expansions, events, arts, and preservation. Ongoing construction at the county jail and parking garage sites was spotlighted as Heart of Tyler looked to the future. The meeting was held at Smith County’s newly renovated Hub Center on East Ferguson. Heart of Tyler works with the city’s Main Street Department on various downtown revitalization efforts.

Paluxy Drive Reopened

TYLER — A portion of Paluxy Drive was closed for about 3 1/2 hours following a Tuesday night accident. A cement tanker truck owned by Schwerman Trucking left the road and turned over in the 8300 block of Paluxy. The driver was not injured. A crane was required to get the truck into an upright position. Around 8:30, Paluxy was closed at the accident site. The work was completed just before midnight and the road was reopened.

Tyler City Attorney Honored by Texas Bar Foundation

Tyler City Hall-2TYLER — Tyler City Attorney Deborah G. Pullum has been elected to membership in the Fellows of the Texas Bar Foundation. Fellows of the Foundation are selected for their outstanding professional achievements and their demonstrated commitment to the improvement of the justice system throughout the State of Texas. Election is a mark of distinction and recognition of Pullum’s contributions to the legal profession. Read the rest of this entry »

Van Zandt County Burglary Suspect Shot and Killed

Van Zandt County Sheriffs DeptCANTON — A burglary suspect in Van Zandt County has been shot and killed. It happened early Tuesday morning. A sheriff’s department news release said a homeowner was awakened to see someone burglarizing his pickup truck. The homeowner’s son later shot the suspect when he feared the suspect would kill his father. Read the rest of this entry »

Virus Prompts Adoption Suspensions at Humane Society

LONGVIEW — Animal adoptions have been suspended by the Humane Society of Northeast Texas. The problem stems from a respiratory virus among some of the animals. Local veterinarians had been contacted to run tests in an effort to determine which virus was working its way through the animals. The shelter is still accepting animal surrenders from the public as well as from animal control officers in the area. But they are discouraging residents from giving up their dogs, at least for right now. Read the rest of this entry »

Meat Processing Course Headed for Longview

Longview Schools LogoLONGVIEW — A unique course is on the way to Longview, where officials have approved a plan to build a $2 million dollar meat-processing lab on property just north of Longview High School. The facility will give students the opportunity to learn how to cut and age meat and help prepare them to become butchers or food service managers after high school. School officials believe the facility will also offer the chance for students who go on to college to take their experience to large processing companies as a career.

Man Gets Time for Burglary, Evidence of Other Crimes

rico_brownATHENS — An Athens man has been sentenced to 15 years behind bars for burglary of a habitation and evidence of other crimes against law enforcement. KETK reports Rico Antonio Brown, 26, had previously pleaded guilty to burglary of a habitation, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. During the sentence, Assistant District Attorneys Daniel Cox and Jenny Palmer presented evidence not only of the burglary but also evidence of different offenses allegedly committed by Brown after the burglary. Prosecutors claimed that on November 20, 2012, Brown forced his way into the apartment of his girlfriend while their child was in the home sleeping. He reportedly proceeded to place his hands around his girlfriend’s neck and choke her. Read the rest of this entry »

Van Zandt County Crime Stoppers: $4,400 in Rewards Approved in 2013

CANTON — Van Zandt County Crime Stoppers in 2013 authorized $4,400 in rewards for anonymous tips that led to the arrests of more than a dozen people, on charges ranging from drugs to firearm theft to involvement in a fiery explosion at an oil storage facility. Recapping what’s termed a successful year of activity, Andy Flowers, president of Van Zandt County Crime Stoppers, said that in 2014, the organization will continue to increase its visibility. Flowers says the goal is to make sure people are aware they can provide information that helps police and sheriff’s deputies make arrests, and that they can collect cash rewards for doing so. Read the rest of this entry »

Victim Identified in Tyler Wreck

Tyler Fatal 1-19-14TYLER — The victim who died in a Sunday crash in Tyler has been identified as Alfonso Herrera-Vazquez, age 45, of Brownsboro. The wreck happened just after 9:45 p.m. on Highway 64 West and the Tyler loop. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. Investigators say a semi truck was stopped in Highway 64′s southbound turn lane facing west. A pickup driven by Herrera-Vasquez was also traveling west in the inside lane and for unknown reasons collided with the back of the semi-trailer. Police say the victim appears to have died instantly.

Man Stabbed During Monday Night Incident

police-car-lights2SMITH COUNTY — A man was stabbed during an argument Monday evening at a residence on West Lakeshore in Smith County, according to authorities. Around 7:00, a Smith County deputy was dispatched to a disturbance at the residence. Officials say the deputy responding to the call determined that Jermaine Lamar Benson, age 29, had arrived home and was allegedly intoxicated when a verbal altercation began between Benson and his wife. The altercation turned violent when Benson allegedly began assaulting his wife, according to a news release. Read the rest of this entry »

Former Gun Barrel City Mayor Dead at 35

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — A former East Texas mayor passes away. KETK reports 35-year-old Randall Tye Thomas died suddenly in Providence, Rhode Island. Thomas was the former mayor of the Gun Barrel City. He recently relocated from Dallas to Providence. Thomas made history when he was elected mayor of the Henderson County town. At the time, he was the youngest person to be elected as mayor of any city in Texas. He was 21 and won with 67 per cent of the vote to become leader of the city of several thousand. But the term didn’t last that long. He resigned after 54 weeks.

Man’s Body Recovered from Pond

bodypondlnjPANOLA COUNTY (Staff/AP) — The search for a missing 83-year-old Panola County man ended tragically Monday when searchers discovered his body in a pond near where he had last been seen. According to the Longview News-Journal, Panola County Sheriff’s deputies, members of Carthage and Gary fire departments, Panola County Constable Bryan Murff, Texas Department of Fish & Wildlife and EMS personnel were at the scene searching for the man reported missing by his wife Monday afternoon. The search took place at a pond along CR 121 south of Carthage, just off of FM 10. The man was reported missing when his wife found the boat in a pond where he had last been seen and could not find him. His body was found in the water just before 4 p.m. by search teams not far from the shoreline. His name has not been released pending notification of next of kin.

Former President of East Texas BBB Passes Away

TYLER — Kathleen “Kay” Robinson, former President of the Better Business Bureau of Central East Texas, has passed away at the age of 77. She died Monday morning, according to a Stewart Family Funeral Home notice. She worked as President of the local BBB from 1985 until her retirement in 2009.

Road Work Around Tyler Hospitals

thumb_cityoftylerTYLER — There was a single lane closure on Hospital Drive and Osler Drive Monday for the placement of new asphalt paving. Today, there will be a single lane closure on Clinic Drive for the placement of asphalt paving. There may be traffic delays both days. Drivers are encouraged to seek alternate routes if possible.

Van Zandt County Explosion Said to be Accidential

Van Zandt County fire 1-19-14CANTON — Investigators in Van Zandt County say a fatal explosion and fire was accidental. The explosion and following fire left an elderly woman dead. Van Zandt County Emergency Management tells KETK the explosion was caused by a partially open propane valve on a line that ran into the house that was not being used. The propane reportedly seeped into the residence and something ignited the vapors The fire was reported around 5:00 Sunday afternoon on County Road 2430 between Canton and Mabank. The woman’s name has not been released.

Tyler Holds Annual King Day Event

Martin Luther KingTYLER — A standing-room-only crowd in Tyler’s St. Gregory Cathedral School gym honors the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Event spokesman Jeff Williams says he was very pleased with the city’s annual March, Rally, and Ecumenical Service; he says the crowd was “more of a rainbow” this year. Williams noted “multiple ethnicities, multiple races, multiple religion — much more showing the diversity of Tyler and how we can come together and be united as a community.” Williams also noted good support from local elected officials. Read the rest of this entry »

Pair Slain Outside Church after Child Visit

thumb_crimescene-1COLMESNEIL (AP) – An East Texas man and his wife have been fatally shot outside a church after a supervised visit with his 4-year-old daughter from a previous marriage. The Tyler County Sheriff’s Office says nobody has been arrested. Autopsies were scheduled Monday for Nathan Bradley Maddox and Krystal Renee Maddox of Zavalla. Sheriff Bryan Weatherford says investigators ruled out murder-suicide. He did not release details on suspects or a possible motive in the shootings Saturday afternoon outside Mount Carmel Baptist Church near Colmesneil, 110 miles northeast of Houston. Nobody else was hurt. The child and others participating in the court-ordered supervised visit were inside the church when the victims walked outside. A mediator inside called 911 after hearing gunfire. Details weren’t immediately available on who has custody of the child.

Overton Man Dead in Upshur County Crash

Charles Kenneth GibbsUPSHUR COUNTY — Officials have identified a man who was killed early Saturday evening in a head-on collision in Upshur County. KETK reports the victim was Charles Kenneth Gibbs, 73, of Overton. He was pronounced dead on scene by Precinct 2 Justice of the Peace Lyle Potter. Officials say the accident happened between 7:00 p.m.and 8:00 p.m. on Highway 155 north of Gilmer. There were no immediate details on how the accident occurred.

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